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Washburn Rejects Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Gaming Compact

October 22, 2012 | Posted by Masse, Chris and Seffernick, Aubrey | Print this page
Just weeks on the job, newly confirmed U.S. Department of Interior Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn, was faced with needing to make a decision on the long-awaited Mashpee Wampanoag gaming compact. On October 12, Assistant Secretary Washburn, to the dismay of the Tribe and the State of Massachusetts, disapproved the compact, concluding that the compact's 21.5% revenue sharing provision would undermine the central premise of IGRA that Indian gaming should primarily benefit tribes. The revenue sharing was given in part as exchange for regional gaming exclusivity; however, if exclusivity was revoked by the state, the revenue sharing was reduced, but still held at 15%. Washburn concluded that there were no other meaningful concessions in the compact that would justify the remaining 15% revenue sharing amount.
The proposed gaming compact also purported to resolve "various important issues between [the tribe and state], such as those involving hunting, fishing and land use matters." Compact sec. 9.2.  In his decision, Washburn noted that Congress "clearly did not intend for class III gaming compacts to be used as leverage by states to resolve 'various important issues,'" but rather gaming compacts must be related to the regulation of gaming. For that reason, Washburn further concluded the compact was impermissible because it included a number of provisions unrelated to the tribe's gaming operation.
A copy of the proposed compact is available at Turtle Talk.

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